Jordan Spieth again walking tall into Augusta National after Texas victory
Seven months ago, at the U.S. Open at punishing Winged Foot in New York, Jordan Spieth was lost.
“Standing on a tee at the U.S. Open and not exactly knowing where the ball is going to go is not a great feeling,” Spieth said before he missed the cut, his third consecutive start in which he didn’t make the weekend. “But I'll grind it out. I don't ever give up. I have no reason to.”
On Monday, he arrived at Augusta National Golf Club as one of the favorites to win the Masters.
Spieth is back to doing Spieth things again as he ended a baffling winless drought of 1,351 days and 82 PGA Tour starts with a two-shot victory Sunday in the Valero Texas Open, his first title since capturing the Claret Jug at the 2017 Open Championship.
Photos: Monday's Masters practice round
The former No. 1 in the world, who fell to 92nd earlier this year, is 38th with a bullet, the first time he’s been in the top 50 in more than a year.
The victory in the Lone Star State was his 12th PGA Tour title and placed him in some pretty good company. He joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas as the only players to win 12 or more tournaments before turning 28.
With his confidence mounting, Spieth is walking a bit taller on some of his most cherished ground, where he won the Masters among the Georgia pines in 2015, finished runner-up in 2014 and 2016 and third in 2018.
It's been the most difficult stretch of his career, a time that crystalized his perspective, humbled him to the core and tested every patient bone in his 27-year-old body as he, at times, banged balls on the range until his hands bled.
Despite the rocky terrain the past four years, he stayed the course and kept his team by his side as he looked for answers within instead of searching for the solution with a new set of people in tow.
“I needed to look back and take responsibility,” Spieth said Monday at Augusta National. “For me it was taking ownership. I believe in my team. They have proven themselves to be the best in the world, and how can we all get a little bit better through this and what steps are we going to take forward to be able to feel this momentum together as we start to make progress in the right direction and then believing that that's happening.”
His road started turning in a better direction after he missed the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He shared the 54-hole lead the next week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before tying for fourth, held the 54-hole lead the following week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am before tying for third.
After a tie for 15th in the Genesis Invitational, he tied for fourth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He also made it to weekend play at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play before winning in San Antonio.
Spieth, however, wasn’t as emotional as he anticipated when he knocked in the final puttto polish off his victory in Texas. To him, it felt like old times again.
“I thought I would have the memories of the downs and the struggles and the climb back and really the progress and the momentum over the last few months, all that kind of hit me, and it just kind of was like, I have a one‑footer to win,” Spieth said. “I was happy that it didn't hit me that hard; that it felt more normal, that it felt like me and that's where I'm supposed to be, and this is who I am.”
But Spieth is hardly satisfied.
“I just feel like there's quite a few things that I still need to really improve on and get better,” he said. “There are times and ways that I can take a step forward and feel better and produce better golf shots consistently and produce better strokes, and it was pretty awesome when I look back and think there's a next level that I've been at that I'm still searching for right now.
“I like the progress that I'm making. I don't feel that I have the control of all facets of my game that I want to have yet, but I feel like I'm working the right direction.”